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U.S. Trails Only Switzerland in Financial Secrecy

The U.S. ranks No. 2 in financial secrecy, TD adds to its commission-free ETF offerings and most charities are in financial trouble.

The United States is ranked No. 2 in the world in financial secrecy, according to the Tax Justice Network. The Financial Secrecy Index, which has been tracking data on tax havens since 2009, ranks jurisdictions based on their secrecy and scale of their offshore activities. The U.S. trailed Switzerland in the ranking, and was followed by the The Cayman Islands, Hong Kong and Singapore in the top five. According to the TJN, $21 to $32 trillion in private wealth is located in these tax havens. But it’s the identity of the tax havens themselves that the TJN wants to bring to light. According to the index, “The world’s most important providers of financial secrecy harboring looted assets are mostly not small, palm-fringed islands as many suppose, but some of the world’s biggest and wealthiest countries.”

TD Adds to Commission-Free ETF Platform

TD Ameritrade announced at its National LINC conference that it has added 24 ETFs to its commission-free trading platform, ETF Market Center, bringing the total to 320 funds. The platform now includes USAA funds for the first time, as well several iShares country-specific funds. In October, the firm expanded its commission-free ETF lineup from 100 to 296 funds, but it had removed 84 funds, including all of Vanguard’s products and many of the iShares style box funds. The news took many registered investment advisors by surprise and some voiced their frustrations about having to revamp their models or pay the firm’s $6.95 ticket charge. TD responded by giving RIAs more time to move to the new platform. Since expanding the platform in October, commission-free ETF balances have grown by $8 billion through December.

Charities in Trouble

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About half of U.S. nonprofits are in financial trouble, a new report by Oliver Wyman, SeaChange Capital Partners, and GuideStar reveals. The study, which examined the finances of about 220,000 nonprofits from 2010 to 2014, found that 50 percent have less than one month of cash reserves, 30 percent have lost money over three years and about one in 12 are technically insolvent. The study found that two-thirds of nonprofits are small, reporting operating budgets of less than $1 million. Just 2 percent of nonprofits have budgets of $50 million or more, representing 80 percent of total spending. “The scale of the problem is vast,” John MacIntosh, a partner at SeaChange and an author of the report, said in The NonProfitTimes. “Just restoring current insolvent nonprofits to solvency would require an injection of $40 to $50 billion,” he said.

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